Exploring Childhood Obesity Perceptions Among Caregivers of African American Children

Abstract

Childhood obesity efforts have been characterized by low levels of caregiver involvement. This qualitative study explores caregiver perceptions about childhood obesity prevention. We conducted 12 in-depth interviews with caregivers of African American children aged 8–11 years. We used thematic analysis to identify consistent patterns of preventing childhood obesity and encouraging healthy behaviors. Four themes emerged including rural culture and the built environment, physical and social health effects of childhood obesity, measuring childhood obesity, and preventive strategies. Caregivers are cognizant of childhood obesity risk factors and discussed challenges in their rural environment when attempting to practice and maintain health behaviors for their children. They also stated that caregivers were vital in preventing childhood obesity. Our findings highlight the value of involving caregivers in the design and implementation of childhood obesity initiatives. Additionally, future childhood obesity efforts should equip caregivers and children with behavioral skills and resources to assist in developing healthy habits.

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Funding

This work was supported by the Georgia Southern University Graduate Student Organization (grant number 1378924576).

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Correspondence to Dayna S. Alexander.

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Alexander, D.S., Alfonso, M.L. & Nazaruk, D. Exploring Childhood Obesity Perceptions Among Caregivers of African American Children. J Afr Am St 22, 345–356 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12111-018-9415-7

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Keywords

  • Child health
  • African American youth
  • Qualitative research
  • Obesity
  • Caregivers
  • Rural health